Yogi Eka Sahputra, Batam – Fishermen in the Riau Islands, especially in Batam and Karimun, strongly rejected sea sand export due to fear of rampant sand mining in the regions that damage the fishing zone.
Amirullah, a fisherman from Karimun, recalled that the sea sand mining had occurred in the regency around the 2000s. At that time, he was among those who voiced objections to the government and companies because the extraction was harmful to fishing zones of fishermen who were averagely small fishermen.
"Catch yields are not decreasing, but there are no yields," Amir told Tempo on Tuesday, May 30, 2022.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo issued Government Regulation No. 26 of 2023 concerning the management of marine sedimentation products on May 15, 2023, reopening the export of sea sand that had been banned since 2003. Under this provision, sea sand and sediment may be transported from Indonesian waters, except in a few locations.
Amir emphasized that the significant drop in catches proved that sand mining activities were destroying coral reefs that are home to fish. "Now after 20 years of the incident, conditions are recovering, our catches have improved, although not one hundred percent, but this [sea sand mine] is reopening," he lamented President Jokowi's policy.
According to him, the government's policy is difficult to resist, let alone it comes from small fishermen. However, he hoped that the government will provide long-term solutions for the community.
Instead of a short-term solution such as compensation worth Rp500,000-1 million for each affected fisherman, the company and the government can present bigger boats for them to go to sea farther from the sand mining point. "All of our ships are now under 5GT that we can only go out to sea near sea sand mining sites and there will definitely be no fish," Amir explained.
To date, he claimed that the local and central governments have never spoken to fishermen regarding the reopening of the sea sand mining export. "The Karimun Sea is already damaged, and later there will be this sand mine, it will be more difficult for us to find fish," Amir said.
A fisherman from Pempingi Island of Batam, Hamdan Umar, seconded Amir's statement. According to him, around 2,000 locations on the island are also set as sea sand mining points.
"We remain in our stance; rejecting sea sand mining. This is a business, they gain benefits but we are the ones who suffer," he said.
Hamdan lamented President Jokowi's decision to reopen the sea sand export. He argued that those who know the impact are the community and small fishermen at the mine site. "We are the ones in direct contact with the sea. I was raised by the sea. If [the President] still wants the sea sand export, just come here," he said.